Amidst a diplomatic row, the Pakistan-Iran Joint Border Commission met in the provincial capital on Wednesday to discuss the kidnapping of five border guards by an Iranian group, Jaish al Adl.
According to Iranian media reports, the guards were seized on February 6 in the Iranian province of Sistan-Baluchestan by militants who allegedly took them across the border to Pakistan.
The Iranian delegation – comprising 13 officials including Sistan- Baluchestan Deputy Governor Ali Asghar Mir Shikari – met with Pakistani officials in Quetta.
Balochistan Chief Secretary Baber Yaqoob Fateh Mohammad presided over the meeting, which was also attended by Home Secretary Asadur Rehman Gailani and provincial police chief Mushtaq Sukhera.
An official, who attended the meeting, told The Express Tribune that Iranian delegation was furious over the kidnapping of their border guards, which are believed to be taken by their captors into the Pakistani province of Balochistan.
The Iranian officials regretted the alleged lack of action on the part of Pakistani security forces to eradicate terrorism from their soil, the official told The Express Tribune requesting anonymity.
“It is regrettable that Pakistan’s territory is being used by terrorists. Pakistani security forces should take action against them,” sources quoted one of the Iranian officials as saying.
“For us, recovery of our guards is more important than any other issue. Iran will provide all intelligence to Pakistani forces to trace the extremists involved in the kidnapping of the Iranian guards,” he added.
Later talking to the media, Home Secretary Gailani said the two sides discussed issues of mutual interest and cross-border trade. He did not say the issue of guards’ kidnapping figured during the meeting.
According to a press statement issued by the provincial home ministry, the chief secretary said Pakistan and Iran had bilateral relations and people on either sides of the border have a shared culture and history.
Iran’s Ali Asgher Mir Shikari also spoke on the occasion. ”Founder of Pakistan Muhammad Ali Jinnah had also given immense importance to Iran and made efforts to have good relations.”
On Monday, Iran said it would send forces into Pakistan to free the kidnapped guards if Islamabad did not take measures to secure their release.
“If Pakistan doesn’t take the needed steps to fight against the terrorist groups, we will send our forces into Pakistani soil. We will not wait for this country,” Iranian Interior Minister Abdolreza Rahmani-Fazli was quoted as telling the semi-official Mehr news agency.
A day later, Pakistan voiced serious concerns. Foreign office spokesperson Tasnim Aslam made it clear that Iranian forces had no authority to cross into Pakistan in violation of international law.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 20th, 2014.
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